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Woman Survives Heart Attack on Tampa Flight

Woman Survives Heart Attack on Tampa Flight

Practicing paramedic and CPR instructor, Michael Brooks teaches people how to recognize when someone is having a heart attack and step one is to call 911.  But what if you are at 30,000 feet? Ironically, Brooks had just taught a group of pilots and staff for a private aircraft firm the week before on what to do in an in-flight emergency so he was well prepared for what unfolded.

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 About an hour into the flight, Brooks heard the woman behind him projectile vomiting and complaining of chest pain. Initially, the pain was attributed to an anxiety attack, but symptoms worsened.  The flight attendants broadcast the call to passengers to ask if there was doctor or nurse on board. Brooks deferred to see if higher trained professionals responded, but realized those that did offer assistance, hadn’t practiced in years and the woman’s condition was deteriorating.  Attendants trained in CPR brought emergency oxygen and an AED, following airline protocol, but were not able to access certain life-saving medicines contained in a little black medical bag, under lock and key, that only can be accessed with a land-based emergency room doctor’s permission.  Brooks offered his assistance, consulted with the pilot on her vitals and worsening condition. 

Sixteen minutes later, after several dropped satellite phone connections, the black bag was released, enabling Brooks to get access to a stethoscope and spyrometer to take blood pressure, access to aspirin but he needed to start an IV.  The cabin, darkened at the time, flashlights held overhead lit the scene as he started to insert the IV. The plane hit turbulence adding to the drama. Securing a stable line, he administered a sublingual nitro to relieve chest pain and dilate blood vessels, and Reglan to relieve the nausea. Fortunately she remained conscious and color improved.

Meanwhile in the cockpit, the captain got clearance for an accelerated emergency landing the 737 at Roanoke Virginia, taking 20 minutes to get the plane on the ground.  Passengers were respectful and calm as they allowed paramedics to board the plane and transport the woman to the nearest hospital, and believed to survive.

Brooks, not wanting recognition and modest type of guy was fortunate to be on that plane that day. Brooks said “I was a little reluctant to volunteer at first, but am glad that I could help. There is no substitute for being prepared and I encourage everyone to take a CPR class and get an AED."

Background: 

Michael Brooks is a highly-rated senior instructor for Altra Medical, and teaches CPR and AED training for lay responders for corporations, communities and churches and he is also skilled to teach healthcare providers and advanced cardiac courses.  His experience as a practicing paramedic who uses his real-life storys to his students.  Now when he teaches the he has an even more dramatic story to tell with a happy ending. 

 

 

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